President Trump and Iranian President Rouhani had a verbal clash on Sunday. It started with Rouhani, addressing a gathering of Iranian diplomats. From Reuters:
“Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the state news agency IRNA reported.
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reported efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.
The President responded on Twitter:
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Iran has been working to circumvent or negate US pressures following the United States’ departure from the Iranian nuclear deal. They have made arrangements with China and the E.U. to continue their respective parts of the deal. (Newsweek) Rouhani has also spoken on the subject with Vladimir Putin, who has formed an official alliance with Iran and Turkey over military responses in Syria. (Times of Israel) (Al-Monitor)
After affirming support from other nations, Iranian leaders have been suggesting they may block oil transport through the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz if the US attempts to prevent other nations from purchasing Iranian oil.
Many reporters and pundits drew the obvious parallel between Trump’s all-capitals tweet and his “Fire and fury” threat to Kim Jong Un.
— Dominic Patten (@DeadlineDominic) July 23, 2018
Of course, last year Trump was talking about fire and fury against North Korea "the likes of which the world has never seen," so by this time next year Trump will probably be strolling in a garden, sharing smiles with Rouhani. pic.twitter.com/nSHj7Mexyd
— Anthony Zurcher (@awzurcher) July 23, 2018
In each case, there is a terrorism-supporting brutal regime that is being belligerent toward the United States but is effectively a client state of an international power. In both cases the international power is a tyrannical government with long histories of human rights abuses whose leaders are openly admired by President Trump. If anything, Iran is in a stronger position than North Korea was. President Trump has been complimentary to Xi, but he hasn’t given a public performance as a deferential lickspittle the way he did for Vladimir Putin after their recent summit. (TNB)
There is another parallel which is easily missed, however. Much as with the “Fire and Fury” threat, this tweet was produced on a day when President Trump wishes to distract from another news story. Trump and his supporters are claiming that the Carter Page warrant application validates the Nunes memo, while in fact it rebuts nearly every point the Nunes memo made. The easiest way to avoid scrutiny is to generate another controversy in the hope that the Page information is given lesser prominence, leaving potential voters with the impression that the Nunes memo was accurate.
If that is the ultimate intent of President Trump’s oddly capitalized threat, there is even less substance to it than there is to Kim Jong Un’s assurances of denuclearization. It is merely a big hoax.